National Productivity Week 27th January 2025 | Visit Website

A diverse community of
leading experts, policymakers
and practitioners

The Institute’s key research themes
are led by ten academic partners
spread across the UK.

We’re a UK-wide research
organisation exploring what
productivity means for business

Businesses are crucial to solving
the UK’s productivity problems.

Gender and Productivity

This paper makes the case that integrating equality into the productivity agenda is essential for a medium to long term strategy for raising productivity that aims at improving well-being for all. Not doing so risks the development of an increasingly polarised and dysfunctional society. Over recent decades, OECD countries have relied on women’s investments in education and steadily rising higher employment participation to boost growth, but now further growth requires attention to raising productivity.

This is the hard part of the transition to a more gender equal society as it requires action on three fronts; changes to the way work is organised in the workplace and the home to enable women to make full use of their talents, changes to pay structures to ensure women’s work is appropriately valued and rewarded and greater investment in support for working parents. These changes are needed across the spectrum of women’s work to address the different challenges faced by women in different social, employment and demographic contexts. Institutional change has not kept pace with the major changes in women’s engagement in education and employment and indeed in gender relations and behaviour in the wider society. Low productivity problems stem in part from a mismatch between this major social change and the organisation of our society and economy.

Authors: Jill Rubery, Isabelle Bi, Anthony Rafferty (The University of Manchester)


  • Human Capital




J. Rubery, I. Bi, A. Rafferty (2023) Gender and Productivity. Working Paper No. 032, The Productivity Institute